#WomanOfInterest – Charlize Theron
February 8th, 2019 by Elizabeth Radabaugh
You may know her for her film roles. However, our #WomanOfInterest this week is more than just a starring Actress. Charlize Theron started her career as a ballet dancer in South Africa. Now, she not only has won multiple awards as an actress, but she fights for women and children around the world.
Growing Up On The Farm
Charlize was born in Benoni, Transvaal Province, South Africa in 1975. Her parents, Charles and Gerda, co-owned a road construction company. They lived on a working farm outside of Johannesburg, requiring Charlize to help out by tending livestock. She even had a pet goat named Bok! However, she grew a passion for dance that could not be denied. She started taking ballet lessons at 4 years old. At the age of 13, Charlize’s parents enrolled her in the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg to study dance.
While Charlize’s parents fostered her passion for dance, her early life was filled with turmoil. Her father struggled with alcoholism and became physically abusive. In 1991, at just the age of 15, Charlize watched as her father, Charles, attacked her mother. In self-defense, her mother shot and killed Charles. Due to the nature of the attack, Gerda was never charged with a crime.
Sparking A Career
Just a year later, Charlize entered a modeling contest in Johannesburg. After winning the contest, she traveled to Milan, Italy and won the International New Model Today competition. This sparked her modeling career. However, her sights remained on Ballet. “Even though I was modelling, I always thought of myself as a dancer. I had the capability to be a bigger model than I was. They were always telling me: ‘Lose five pounds and you’ll be a supermodel.’ But I saw modelling like waitressing – it was a way to pay for another career, and that career was dance,” she told the New York Times in 2008.
Moving To The Big Apple
At the age of 18, Charlize moved to New York to study with the Joffrey Ballet. However, after severe knee injuries, she had to move on from her dance career dream. “I realized I couldn’t dance anymore, and I went into a major depression. My mom came over from South Africa and said, ‘Either you figure out what to do next or you come home, because you can sulk in South Africa,'” she told the New York Times in 2008.
Moving To Hollywood
After tackling a modeling career and a dance career, Charlize decided to pursue acting and moved to Los Angeles. She studied hours of television in order to hide her Afrikaner accent and land those coveted speaking roles.
In 1994, Charlize found herself arguing with a bank teller, a seemingly small incident in anyone’s eyes. However, John Crosby, a Hollywood manager, just so happened to be in the bank at the same time. He immediately saw something in Charlize and offered to sign her. Within just a few months, she landed her first film role, a small part in Children Of The Corn III. It didn’t take long for her Hollywood presence to grow. Some of her notable early films include The Devil’s Advocate in 1997, Celebrity in 1998, and Disney’s Mighty Joe Young in 1998.
From Monster To Star
Charlize continuously worked in films alongside movie stars for the next few years. However, it wasn’t until 2003, when she performed as a serial killer in Monster, that she landed the title of “Movie Star.” This role won her both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. She became the first African to win an acting Oscar.
Since her award-winning year in 2003, Charlize has starred in many films. You can see her in Hancock, Show White and the Huntsman, Promethius, and even Mad Max: Fury Road. She has landed multiple award nominations through the years.
From Star To Social Activist
Theron is a strong philanthropist and social activist. In 2008, she was given the esteemed title of the United Nations’ Tenth Messenger Of Peace. She also advocates for The Global Fund, who fights AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Charlize is a strong, active member of PETA as well. She appears in advertisements for them.
In 2007, she created the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project. This organizations fights to keep African children safe from HIV/AIDS. In 2009, CTAOP worked with Toms Shoes to create a unisex, vegan shoe. They gifted 10,000 pairs of these shoes to destitute children. Charlize’s background as a South African Actress has helped her grow into the brilliant social activist she is today.
Do you know a wonderful woman that we should feature?
Send the dancer’s name to firstname.lastname@example.org and why you think they should be showcased!
Elizabeth Radabaugh is the StarQuest Social Media Production Assistant. She loves everything Disney and delicious.